Jun 30, 2007

tdf 2007

Well the Tour de France 2007 is slated to start July 7; a few days from now. Unless you haven't read a sports page since the 2006 podium award, you will know that all sorts of doping scandals and news have hit the sport. Some just this week involving winners of races this year. Landis, Basso, Ullrich, etc. are all defending themselves, admitting to doping, or just plain retiring. Many are disillusioned with the sport. Some because of their distrust of the riders. Some because of their distrust of the various organizations and promoters around the sport like the ASO and UCI who seem to do their damndest to inflict as much punishment as possible on the sport they are supposed to be promoting and operating.

From a personal perspective I really don't give a crap. I was going to expound on that but I won't. I just don't care. I enjoy watching the sport and that's about all that matters to me.

Some basic information for this years tour. We have 21 teams of 9 riders covering 20 stages. 6 stages have some significant mountain component and 3 of those finish with a mountain climb. 2 stages are individual time trails. No team trials. The race begins in London. A first for the tour.

Some places to go for news and coverage:

Also of interest are the winners of events since the last TdF

  • Tour de Suisse - Vladimir Karpets
  • Dauphine-Libere - Christophe Moreau
  • Giro d'Italia - Danilo Di Luca
  • Vuelta a Espana (2006) - Alexandre Vinokourov (Valverde 2nd)
  • Milan-Sanremo - Oscar Freire
  • Ronde van Vlaanderen - Alessandro Ballan
  • Paris-Roubaix - Stuart O'Grady
  • Liege-Bastogne-Liege - Danilo Di Luca
And the winners of the 2006 Tour again are:

  • Yellow - Landis (*), Pereiro, Kloden
  • Green - McEwen, Zabel, Hushovd
  • Polka - Rasmussen, Landis, De La Fuente
  • White - Cunego, Fothen, Sprick
Finally who is racing this year. I thought about listing all the people who aren't going to be racing but it's quicker to point out who is. Let's go through the teams.

Ag2r Prevoyance - Cyril 'Frog Legs' Dessel, Sylvain 'Calzone' Calzatti, and Christophe 'Mo Betta' Moreau are the better riders. There isn't a chance in hell these guys will be in contention. I've heard other teams are actually allowing them to take EPO just to make it a little more exciting. Ag2r stands for Agricultural Group Rothschild & Rothschild so basically they are backed by farmers.

Agritubal - Sorry I don't recognize a soul on this team worth typing about. Mercado? Jalabert? Oh wait I think one of the guys was my teacher in 6th grade. Go Mr. Hale Go. Godspeed.

Astana - Andreas 'The Kloser' Kloden, Alexandre 'I Vill Vin' Vinokourov, and Paolo 'Pastrami' Salvodeli. Astana actually is a group of interests in Kazakhstan which is where Vino is from. If you watch Vino carefully you'll see on the back of his shirt it says "Excellent Cycling For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. While they are probably the main contenders look for something terrible and comical to occur at an important time. It would seem fitting. Most are backing Vino to win the yellow.

Barloworld - It's not very well known that Barloworld is an amusement park in Croatia owned by the same people who own Wally World. Only Robert "The Hunted" Hunter has any real tour experience. Watch for replays of disastrous breakaway attempts and crashes. Someone hand out some drugs to these boys. And the first Welsh rider since 1968 will be riding, Geraint Thomas.

Bouygues Telecom - Thomas 'Vroom' Voeckler and Yoann 'Bagel' Le Boulanger. Voeckler, of course, doesn't so much dance on his bike as they say, but rather break dance. A more inefficient rider you will never see. Contenders only in the sense that they will probably pick up the most chicks for being super French. Especially now that the 'Brochard' handicap has been removed. Brochard won't be riding this year. Brochard is known for his epic mullet.

Caisse d'Epargne - Alejandro 'I Won't Quit This Time' Valverde and Oscar 'The Grouch' Perreiro. Valverde of course dropped out of TdF2006 after a crash. Seems to be drug free and the boy can climb. His team is a little weak. Watch for some sparring with Vino when we hit the mountains. He could make things interesting. Or not. And Karpets is on the team. Young and willing. Caisse d'Epargne I believe is French for Pleasure Hotel. That's right. They are backed by whores.

Cofidis - Sylvain 'Chanel #82' Chavanel and David 'I Don't Have Cooties' Moncoutie. Chavanel is best known for his his breakaway attempts. Actually he's more famous for is 100% failure rate at pulling off any successful breakaways. It's a streak we expect him to maintain.

Credit Agricole - Thor 'I'm a God' Hushovd, Alexandre 'Don't Botch it' Botcharov and Sebastien 'Leave My Dad Out of This' Hinault. Hushovd might actually be a god. He had some stage wins and was in the yellow for a period of time.

CSC - Carlos 'The Mastre of Disastre' Sastre, Jens 'Kampff' Voigt, and David 'Brisket' Zabriskie. All 3 of these riders have had great hopes at one point or another. Zabriskie is still young enough to do something about that. But what do they say? Terrible things come in threes? Watch for Zabriskie to crash in a time trial. They have Schleck, Cancellara and American Vande Velde to round things out.

Discovery - Ivan Basso Levi 'Take a Leap' Leipheimer, Jaroslav 'Popover' Popovich, and George 'Hinky' Hincapie. Perhaps I should be more excited about this but do we really think a top spot on the podium is possible with this team?

Euskaltel - Again I have no clue. No one cares. Zubeldia? Landaluze? Whatever.

Francaise des Jeus - Thomas 'Try To Pronounce My Last Name' Lovkvist and Sandy 'Don't Call Me Lanterne Rouge' Casar. Casar is well known for his ability to coast on downhill stages. Which is to say he should ride rather badly throughout the Tour. Lovkvist is young, 23, and might have something up his sleeve.

Gerolsteiner - Markus 'Almost' Fothen, Fabian 'Wigout' Wegmann, and Stefan 'F-1' Schumacher. Rebellin, who had a win this year was on the team. His win this year was in the wonderfully named Amstel Gold Race. Unfortunately for him the winner received an unlimited supply of beer and he tested the definition of unlimited. Fothen the leader of the team, was actually a white jersey contender last year. The team might be a contender in 2009.

Lampre Fondital - Allesandro 'Ballast' Ballan. Lots of Italians on this team. All fairly solid riders too. Ballan has a win in 07. Their dazzling hair dos only serve to amplify the intimidation factor. Last year's white jersey winner, Cunego, is not racing for some reason.

Liquigas - Danilo 'Mr. Feelgood' DiLuca and Filippo 'You Say Pozaytto' Pozatto. DiLuca won two races this year. Unfortunately he may drop out due to some new drug inquiries. Oh well. Pozaato I've never heard of and he's the team leader. Pozatto is so Italian he actually has managed to ride the Tour all these years using a Vespa without anyone complaining. Ciao!

Milram - Sprint team. Alessandro 'I Will Never Learn' Pettachi and Erik 'EPO' Zabel. Both guys are sprinters. There is also a strong Eurotrash smell coming off both men that completely befuddles other sprinters. Pettachi out. Suspended and facing a hearing on a high drug reading from the Giro d'Italia. Zabel actually confessed to using EPO in the late 90s. These guys are a walking chemical factory.

Predictor-Lotto - Cadel 'I'm Not Welsh' Evans. I'll keep hoping on this guy. But then again I've backed the Vikings most of my life so do not place any bets on my data. Americans Horner and Rodriguez will try to help him improve his fifth place from last year.

Quickstep-Innergetic - Tom 'Boom Boom' Boonen. Bettini was on this team but not anymore. Boonen will be going for the green jersey again.

Rabobank - Denis 'Mench' Menchov, Michael 'Booger' Boogerd, and Michael 'Tussin' Rasmussen. I love this sponsor. Rabobank. Rob-A-Bank. Bite the wax tadpole much? I don't know. I'm kind of liking this team.

Saunier-Duval - Do they really need 20 friggin teams? Iban 'Hold The' Mayo, while getting over the Alpe d'Huez a few years back is truly now over the hill. Lots of Spaniards on this team. Should be good mountain climbers.

T-Mobile - How far the mighty have fallen.

Hopefully I have all the riders on the right team. Lots of swapping around the in last few days. So where does this leave us? I'm not sure. I think you have to view Vino as the favorite because he's one of the few riders who attacks like a S of a B. Some of the riders have buns of steel but minds of jello. He's the strongest mentally. I think Valverde and Zabriskie will be interesting to watch to see if they've rounded out some of their weaknesses. And last years white jersey & runner up, Cunego and Fothen, should be interesting to see if they've matured.

We'll see you at the starting gate.

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